Barack Obama made a fool of himself again yesterday. At a campaign event in Georgia, he mocked Americans as ignoramuses who go abroad and can’t say anything in French except “merci beaucoup.” (Obama doesn’t speak French.) He said that rather than worrying about immigrants learning English, we must all teach our children to speak Spanish. (Obama doesn’t speak Spanish, either.) Here is the video:
Talk radio has been having fun with this clip all day, and I don’t have much to add. The spectacle of Obama and his fans enjoying their presumed superiority over the rest of us benighted Americans–the most telling feature of the video is the “knowing” laughs Obama elicits from his audience–is not pretty.
One thought, though: isn’t this one more example of how out of touch Obama is? The ugly American abroad is a stereotype from the 1950s and 1960s. Does Obama really not know that for the last several decades, every school district in America has been relentlessly pushing the study of foreign languages? Is he unaware that it is now commonplace for American high school students to travel abroad in school groups to practice their German, French, Spanish, Japanese, and so on?
Obama himself never attended a public school, so perhaps he really has no idea what goes on there. As he moved from his tony Honolulu prep school to Columbia to Harvard, he may have assumed that it was only the chosen few who learned foreign languages (although not, actually, Obama himself). That’s not the case:
As of 2004, 85 percent of America’s 17 million high school students were graduating with two or more years of foreign language instruction and a third had three or more years.
News flash, Barack: the average American high school student probably has more foreign language proficiency than you do.
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